Just 4.5 minutes of vigorous activity daily may reduce cancer risk: Study

In the study, published in JAMA Oncology the team used data from wearable devices to track the daily activity of over 22,000 'non-exercisers' who were followed till seven years to monitor for 13 cancer sites associated with physical activity.

A total of just 4.5 minutes of vigorous activity, lasting one minute each, that makes you huff and puff during daily tasks could reduce the risk of some cancers by up to 32 per cent, suggest a promising new research.

The study led by researchers at the University of Sydney showed that Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity (VILPA), described as the very short bursts of activity — around one minute each — such as housework, carrying heavy shopping around the grocery store, bursts of power walking or playing high-energy games with the kids can have tremendous benefit for health.

“VILPA is a bit like applying the principles of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to your everyday life,” said lead author Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis of the Charles Perkins Centre.

In the study, published in JAMA Oncology the team used data from wearable devices to track the daily activity of over 22,000 ‘non-exercisers’ who were followed till seven years to monitor for 13 cancer sites associated with physical activity.

These include liver, lung, kidney, gastric cardia (a type of stomach cancer), endometrial, myeloid leukaemia, myeloma, colorectal, head and neck, bladder, breast and esophageal adenocarcinoma (cancer of the oesophagus).

“It’s quite remarkable to see that upping the intensity of daily tasks for as little as four to five minutes a day, done in short bursts of around one minute each, is linked to an overall reduction in cancer risk by up to 18 per cent, and up to 32 per cent for cancer types linked to physical activity.”

The study is observational, meaning it isn’t designed to directly explore cause and effect.

However, the researchers say they are seeing a strong link and refer to previous early-stage trials showing that intermittent vigorous physical activity leads to rapid improvements in cardio-respiratory fitness, which may provide a possible biological explanation for reduced cancer risk.

Other likely contributors include physical activity’s role in improving insulin sensitivity and chronic inflammation.

“We need to further investigate this link through robust trials, but it appears that VILPA may be a promising cost-free recommendation for lowering cancer risk in people who find structured exercise difficult or unappealing,” says Professor Stamatakis.

Regular physical activity was an important strategy for preventing cancer, through direct physiological benefits and indirect benefits in helping to maintain a healthy weight.

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